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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

How to write a cover letter with no experience + (UK examples)

17 min read
How to write a cover letter with no experience (with examples)
Artwork by:Evgeniya Skubina
If you’re struggling to write a cover letter with no experience to show, never fear! This blog will help you create a compelling argument for your employment no matter your background.

You may not think that there’s much point to writing a cover letter when you’re lacking experience.

However, while you might not tick every box in the job description, you may well have the personality and transferable skills to be a self-starter. Especially if you are early on in your career. Plenty of people begin as a blank canvas and go on to great things.

In a different situation, you may not have experience in a certain field or industry but desperately want to change your direction. This could also be considered a lack of experience. Yet, employers make choices to hire these sorts of people every day, too.

When you lack experience, you need to plead your case, and this is where a persuasive cover letter with no experience comes in. In this blog, we’ll explore:

  • Why is a cover letter with no experience required?
  • How to write a cover letter with no experience
  • Cover letter with no experience – scenarios
  • Potential mistakes with a no experience cover letter
  • Examples of entry level cover letters

Get creative about how you sell yourself. Thousands of people like you are writing cover letters with no experience right at this moment.

Expert tip

No experience? Well, it depends how you define experience. 

An employer is looking for evidence that you have the potential to perform in the future role. While you may not have done the exact role previously, you will likely possess many of the skills and attributes that you need to succeed. Tease out these relevant strands of your past. 

Why is a cover letter with no experience required?

Every hiring manager is looking for reasons to hire you.

Contrary to a candidate’s critical inner voice, they are not looking to tear holes in a career story. “How dare you apply for my role, who do you think you are?” Decent hiring managers just don’t think this way. They are keen to find how you fit in, even if you don’t have much experience. Every great manager wants to polish a diamond in the rough.

But you do have to give them something to contemplate.

The cover letter with no experience can touch on the motivations, transferable skills, career objectives and personality traits of a candidate in a way that no resume can. While your lack of experience might seem embarrassing, it is even more embarrassing to make no effort to put forward alternate arguments. You simply won’t even get to the interview stage.

That is really the key reason for a cover letter with no experience: It may get you in the door for that interview.

Then you have the chance to expand on your arguments and actually have an exploratory conversation around what on paper might not seem an ideal fit. The cover letter with no experience should be designed to get you to that point.

Expert tip

Do you need a cover letter for an entry-level role?

If anything, a cover letter is more important than a resume for an entry level role. While a one-page resume might detail the bare bones of your career, the narrative-led cover letter will allow you to explore your motivations and transferable skills in far more depth.

How to write a cover letter with no experience

A cover letter with no experience should follow the same structure as any other cover letter with a cover letter header, suitable greeting, compelling introduction, interesting body and then a call-to-action at the end. In many ways, it is like any other cover letter.

It should have the flow of a sales pitch and the personal appeal of a love letter.

Show that you really (really) want that role, but you don’t need to seem desperate. Writing the content of a cover letter with no experience simply requires a different approach.

Cover letter format

The format of the cover letter should not vary too much. The format of introduction, middle paragraphs and call to action at the end is a trend-and-tested formula that every hiring manager will expect. Writing a short cover letter or being creative with the formats will only serve to highlight just how different you are from the applicants with more experience. Write a full page of cover letter - just make sure that you are creative and thoughtful with the content.

Research the role

While research is where any job search should start, when you do not have much experience, the research needs to be at a whole new level. It is not just about what you think about the employer – you should seek to research exactly how you can construct a sales pitch out of nothing. It takes a lot of effort to do it properly.

As you delve into careers websites, virtual presentations, and online content of employees you will build up a picture of what it is like to work there. The more detailed the picture, the easier it is to imagine how you might sell your skills. Finding your unique angle is key when you do not have a whole heap of experience to fall back on.

Be direct about why they should hire you

There can be no ambiguity about why you deserve the job. If you are not forceful with your arguments about why you are a decent fit, potential employers will take the easy decision and decide to interview someone else who is a more obvious choice on paper.

Don’t allow for any hint of humility or apology in your writing. Saying “I know that I haven’t got much experience, but….” is the best way to get thrown onto the reject pile. Make some strong arguments and stand behind them with confidence. Being direct is where you win.

Structure your arguments

A cover letter with no experience needs to have a strong structure to make it seem more substantial. Use each paragraph to tell a different story or make a different point. If your cover letter flows into itself too much it can seem like a whole lot of nothingness. 

Also, relate your stories back to the requirements of the role in each paragraph – this will show the hiring manager that you have thought things through and that the letter is tailored for the particular role. This can be heartbreakingly tough when you are on your 30th letter after your 29th rejection, but you need to keep going.

Conclude by asking for the interview

Every cover letter should end on a quietly confident and hopeful call to action. You want to find out more during an interview. If anything, this curiosity should come across even more strongly in a cover letter with no experience.

Take one last chance to share your motivation for the role, maybe acknowledge that your application isn’t standard, and say that you are keen to explore the nuances of your story during an interview. If the interviewer feels curious, you have won the first battle.

Would you hire yourself?

Based on what you have written, would you hire yourself? Sure, you haven’t got experience, but what other factors are in play? Are your arguments persuasive enough? Are you talking about what matters? Why would it be worth investing in your development?

Your cover letter with no experience can cover off all these questions if you spend enough time investigating the essence of your “why.”

Hobbies and interests

You would not normally include hobbies and interests in a cover letter, but this may be slightly different if you do not have any direct work experience. If your hobby is related to the role and demonstrates your passion for the work, then it may be worth including. Any interests that demonstrate transferable skills for the role may also be useful.

Expert tip

Keep your cover letter with no experience short and powerful.

Brevity is important when you write a cover letter with no experience. It is also expected as your resume will make clear that you do not have a whole lot to talk about. Maybe cut the letter down to 200 words but make them the most powerful 200 words that you can.

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Candidates don’t have an automatic right to a hiring manager’s time. The start of a cover letter should give their future boss a compelling reason to read further.

Cover letter with no experience – scenarios

There are various plausible scenarios when a cover letter with no experience is common.

However, just because an employer will not be expecting to see much experience doesn’t mean that you should be lazy about making the very best case to hire you.

Cover letter for internship

Internships are notoriously competitive, but the positive is that you will be competing against others who also lack experience. Focus on your motivation for the role, your soft skills (if your technical skills are lacking) and why you think that you would be a perfect fit for the company culture.

Interns are hired through a magnifying glass of potential, so use your cover letter with no experience to paint a picture of who you could become.

Cover letter for your first job / recent graduate

When you are applying for your very first job, your cover letter with no experience will likely carry a heavy focus on your educational achievements and extra-curricular experiences at school, college or university.

Focus on your willingness to learn, explain how this first job will be a stepping-stone to the rest of your career, and demonstrate that you have an aptitude for hard work. Talk about how you have overcome obstacles and learned from your mistakes in the past – there are sure to be plenty of them in those first few wobbly months in a new job.

Cover letter with no experience in the industry or function

In the fast-moving modern world of work, most people change careers multiple times in their lives, only stay at employers for 2-5 years, and often find themselves at the crossroads of “well, I haven’t done this before, so how do I best make my case?”

Writing a cover letter if you do not have experience in a certain industry sector or functional vertical revolves around your transferable skills. How can you build on your past experiences to show that you have the potential to forge a new path?

Personality-led cover letter with minimal experience

Look, sometimes you genuinely have had very little experience in anything. There may well be some school-age wannabe CEOs reading this blog and wondering if they really need to write a cover letter for that casual gardening job.

In this case, a cover letter with no experience is the only thing that makes sense. A formal resume would be too officious for such circumstances, but a letter (or email) filled with personality and enthusiasm is the ideal way to get to the head of the queue.

Expert tip

Should I quantify my transferable skills with no experience?

While the metrics for assessing performance might be different in your desired role, it is still important to show that you are a results-oriented person. Quantify whatever experience with numbers and context wherever possible. Show that you have high standards.

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An effective cover letter acts as a complement to your CV by adding some much-needed personality, highlighting your fit within the specific role, and setting the tone for your interview.

No experience cover letter common mistakes

As with normal cover letters, any mistakes can be fatal for your chances. In a no experience cover letter, however, any mistakes will be doubly frowned upon. Be careful.

Don’t share irrelevant details to fill the page. There is no requirement to fill the page with your cover letter. Detail your most powerful arguments for securing the role and if that falls short of one page, then that is fine.

Meticulous grammar check and proofread. When you have no experience the hiring manager will be paying more attention to other aspects of your application. Faultless spelling and grammar are essential - give them one less reason to reject you.

Don’t adopt a conversational tone. While your cover letter should show off your personality, it should still be written in a professional manner. Keep sentences short and leave conversational affectations until the interview (when you do need to build rapport).

Don't forget the importance of education. Education assumes extra importance when writing a cover letter with no experience. Sure, this might be mentioned on your CV, but dedicating a couple of lines to your education in the cover letter indicates how you value continuous learning. This will be vital in the early years of your career.

Examples of entry level cover letters

While some of the following cover letters may contain a hint of experience, it is easy to see how you can sell a career story with minimal substance. Who knew that there would be so much to say about being a barista, library assistant, or housekeeper?

If you take the attitude of “Oh, I just served coffee” into a job interview, you miss out on all the wonderful things that you learned in the role that could well be incredibly useful for many future careers. You need to use your imagination a little.

Key takeaways when writing a cover letter with no experience

Almost nothing is impossible in a job search. 

If the right boss believes in you in the early stages of your career (or when it comes to a career change), experience doesn’t matter so much. 

Sometimes this revolves around personal chemistry and gut feel but giving them some ammunition to accompany those “feels” won’t hurt. Write your cover letter with no experience and make a compelling case.

  • Structure it like a normal cover letter and include only the best arguments.
  • Be direct with your sales pitch and make sure that you would hire yourself.
  • Keep it brief – maybe a little shorter than a standard cover letter.
  • Don’t forget to say that you are looking forward to discussing further.
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